It finally clicked – the thing that helps make sense out of why evangelism is often so unsuccessful. It goes without saying we cannot be successful at what we don’t try. But when we do try I think we have missed something vitally important that will help us be more effective in reaching people.
Here it is – we don’t account for the psychological processes involved in changing your belief system. When you change your beliefs you have to first lose something to gain something.
Losing something comes with predictable stages, first articulated by Kubler-Ross in a series of books on death, grief and loss.
Here are the stages:
1 – Denial
2 – Anger
3 – Bargaining
4 – Depression
5 – Acceptance
Because we are solely focused on belief change we aren’t focused on grieving processes. So want people to go straight from 1 (denial) to 5 (acceptance) without all the hard work that happens in between, that people naturally need to walk through in order to actually move on to a new way of believing.
This understand does a few things:
1 – It helps us empathize – understanding and identifying where someone is on the process.
2 – It helps us move slowly.
3 – It takes the focus off of ourselves and our success. I wonder if we bail on people at the moment before acceptance. They hit the depression stage and we think they checked out on us. The reality is they are one step from accepting!
What do you think?
Here are two videos I did recently explaining this further with examples.
It sometimes depends on how far away Christianity is from what they believed prior. The cofC spent an inordinate amount of effort trying to convert Baptists and Methodists. It was rare that anyone who was not already a Christian in some form was converted. Additionally, to what was the person being converted? Was it Jesus or cofC polity? I heard one Bible professor, now deceased, say that he could not change his stance on any issue because if someone had converted to that, and it changed, the person might lose faith. These issues were the cofC distinctions not the Christian faith.
“CofC issues…” quite an interesting statement. I was recently told that “No new life without burial in baptism” is just one of those CofC issues…
These were the traditional issues of no IM, proper organization, proper name, no women on the pulpit, correct order of worship, etc. As to baptism, I have never heard of any Christian church not performing it. it is a cofC issue when people start/keep fighting over the how, performed by, why, and what did the convert understand about it before it occurred and were the right words used.